Did you know anti-choice legislators in Ohio want to force women to obtain written paternal consent prior to receiving abortion services?
This invasive anti-choice proposal, H.B.287, would require a woman to disclose the paternity of her fetus and obtain the man’s written informed consent prior to receiving abortion services. Further, this consent bill would require that if she is unable to provide the identity of the man, a paternity test must be performed prior to receiving abortion care. However, it is unclear whether a paternity test could provide a conclusive result regarding identity during the first trimester of pregnancy. This requirement could force women to wait until their second trimester to determine the man’s identity and impose unnecessary and potentially unsafe delays to receiving abortion care. Anyone in violation of the law would be guilty of the criminal offense of "abortion fraud," a first degree misdemeanor. Not only is this measure unconstitutional, it is a clear attack on women's privacy and presents a threat to women’s health.
This bill is unconstitutional under Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania v. Casey, 505 U.S. 833 (1992). In Casey the Supreme Court struck down a less restrictive spousal notification provision as an undue burden on a woman’s right to choose. However, in light of the current composition of the Court, there is no guarantee that precedent will be followed should a legal challenge reach the Supreme Court. In fact, Justice Alito, during his tenure on the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, upheld the spousal notification provision that was struck down in Casey.
This extreme bill shows just how far some state legislators are willing to go to limit women’s right to choose, and to rally a far-right base frustrated with pro-choice gains made in the last election.
The legislation was reintroduced in 2009, but failed.
H.B.287, 127th Leg., 2007 Reg. Sess. (Ohio 2007); H.B.252, 129th Leg., 2009 Reg. Sess. (Ohio 2009).